Bright Skies and Big Clouds

P1160746

Bright skies and big clouds tempted my out into bracing winds on a Friday night after work.

P1160747

Horse Chestnut by Pointer Wood.

P1160750

Traveller’s Joy, Sharp’s Lot.

The path down through Fleagarth Wood to the end of Quaker’s Stang was extremely muddy even then, heaven knows what it will be like now, given all of the rain we have endured since. When I reached the saltmarsh, I was exposed to the full force of the wind for the first time, and was surprised by how brisk it was.

The tide was coming up Quicksand Pool…

P1160757

But the muddy banks were unusually firm, so I continued along them, rather than seeking the road nearby, because that way I kept my view of the retreating sun.

P1160759

P1160762

From Jenny Brown’s Point.

P1160776

Sunset from Jack Scout.

 

Advertisements
Bright Skies and Big Clouds

Find Your Hope.

“Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.”

Wendell Berry  from A Poem on Hope.

P1160726

A third unexpected bonus in as many days – this visit to Foulshaw Moss came hard on the heels of the tiny lizards by Hawes Water and the heron at Bank Well, even though the respective blog posts have been more temporally spaced. The day had started wet, but then brightened enough, whilst I was at work, to kindle some optimism about the prospects for an evening walk. By the time I dropped off our budding ballerina for her classes in Milnthorpe, however, it was already raining again. Clutching at straws, I drove to Foulshaw anyway. In the wind and the rain, Foulshaw was a bit bleak, to say the least.

But then, and only for a moment, the sun dropped low enough in the western sky to suffuse the cloudscape with a hint of colour…

P1160733

And I was pleased that I had made the effort.

P1160738

By the car park at Foulshaw, as is the case at many nature reserves, there is a chalk board for recording sightings, to which somebody had added: ’93 Common Lizards’, which is exactly the kind of precise one-upmanship that these boards seem to invite. The one at Leighton Moss often makes me chuckle, when the numbers of common birds like Starlings, or some of the overwintering ducks, are numbered in huge round numbers into the tens of thousands, as if anyone can count those huge flocks even remotely accurately.

Find Your Hope.

Brew with a View Too.

P1160450

Hagg Wood.

The very next evening, after my Arnside Knott excursion, I was out a bit earlier and able to enjoy the sunshine a little more, although the breeze was cool.

P1160449

Wilding apples.

P1160454

Hedgerow lichen.

P1160452

Sloes.

I was intending to brew-up and watch the sunset again, but I was also intent on collecting some sloes. I had gardening gloves with me, the thorns on Blackthorn are vicious, but, in the end, didn’t use the gloves, finding that a bit of circumspection was sufficient to protect my hands.

The hedgerow had been cut-back hard, earlier this year, and the hard, tart ‘bullies’ were disappointingly sparse.

P1160455

Haws.

P1160458

Hips.

P1160459

More wilding apples – I tried one of these, it was palatable, but nothing to write home about.

Fortunately, the Blackthorn bushes on Sharp’s Lot, National Trust land, had been left well alone and I fairly quickly filled my cup. They’re in the freezer now, I need to weigh them and decide whether I have enough for the Sloe Gin I intend to make (or maybe Sloe Vodka – I’m not find of Gin).

P1160462

TBH is a bit bemused, “But you don’t even like Sloe Gin!”

Which isn’t quite true, but she does have a point: I don’t really drink spirits these days. In truth, I’m a bit puzzled by my own enthusiasm; I think it’s maybe got more to do with the making than the drinking. Well, we’ll see.

My walk brought me to Jack Scout, but a little too late really: the sun hadn’t set, but it had dropped behind a band of cloud on the western horizon. Nevertheless, I fired up the stove again…

P1160465

…and watched the light fade behind the clouds whilst I drank my char.

P1160463

Brew with a View Too.

Brew with a View

P1160430

Alpkit had a sale; I was in possession of  Alpkit credit notes: an irresistible combination. I  bought a gas stove, which the Hard Man had recommended when we were camping in the Howgills earlier this year, and also a folding windshield and a titanium mug. The stove and the windshield will probably get lots of use on family outings, but, in honesty, the mug is a self-indulgent treat.

Anyway, on the evening that the new kit arrived in the post, I heard that the tide was in at Arnside and decided to field test my new toys. Time was short, so I drove to park just above Arnside Tower farm and then stomped up the Knott, hoping not to have missed the sunset.

P1160429

In the event, low cloud in the western sky meant that I couldn’t see the sun, but the river, brimful as promised, was flat calm and reflecting the sky, so I set the stove to boil and settled down to enjoy the tranquility.

P1160435

New kit at work.

P1160439

It was enormously restful; a great way to chill out for half an hour after a day at work.

P1160445

New gear.

P1160446

New gear bagged and ready for the off.

Brew with a View

The Benefits of Volunteering

P1150895

Having started with the title, I realised that other people might have had something to say on this topic and so, after a little lazy internet research, have discovered that volunteering will make me live longer, with more friends, less stubborn belly fat, better mental health and enhanced career prospects. Wow. And I was only thinking of the fact that volunteering had brought me out of an evening to Arnside Knott and put me in the right spot to witness a spectacular sunset. Although I should add that it had previously put me in the right spot to see the Scotch Argus* in the company of knowledgable people who recognised it as such and had also meant that I had been shown the Spiked Speedwell, another Arnside Knott rarity. Oh, and to being given a tip on where to find Lesser Butterfly Orchids next summer.

P1150903

This was the second of three sessions of flora surveying on Redhill Pasture, this time with just our team of three volunteers, without the expert guidance from the National Trust, who own the land, or Morecambe Bay Partnerships, who are coordinating various such surveys around the Bay. The surveying didn’t begin so auspiciously – I’d walked over from home and we’d met in the car park on the Knott before walking down to continue our survey. We soon discovered that the Meadow Ants were swarming. The air was full of winged ants and circling gulls, presumably taking advantage of a bonanza of insect prey. I was soon covered in ants, and then discovered that they were inside my shirt as well as all over the surface. I’ve read that meadow ants can’t bite or sting humans, but I can only report that the next morning I was covered in angry red lumps. Must have been psychosomatic. We were working on quadrats roughly two metres by two metres and by the third I was just about ready to give up, but fortunately, when we moved a little way uphill for the fourth, the number of ants about became bearable again. We found that, after our training sessions, we were able to work with reasonable speed and confidence and had soon progressed to the areas of Blue Moor Grass along the top edge of the pasture from where we witnessed the sunset.

*It only occurs to me now that, in Greek mythology, Argus is a one-hundred eyed giant. Since the Scotch Argus has several eyes around the rim of its wings perhaps this explains the name. Or it might do, except for the fact that the Brown Argus and the Northern Brown Argus (both unrelated to the Scotch Argus) don’t have the eyes. Oh well, nice theory, but more research needed perhaps.

The Benefits of Volunteering

A Corvid Walk

P1130033

Later in the day, after my walk from Brockhole, with the weather now much improved, I was out for another stroll, a standard Hagg Wood, Silverdale Green, Stankelt Lane and across the Lots to the Cove wander.

The trees were absolutely full of small birds, but whilst they were very easy to hear, they were much less easy to see. The Oak above had a family of Blue Tits, which tantalised me by briefly showing themselves then hopping about in the branches, mostly obscured by leaves.

P1130037

P1130042

The Sycamore helicopters which only recently appeared have changed colour already and are now tinged with red.

I watched these two Crows for a while.

P1130049

Shortly after I took this first photo, the Crow at the front leant a little too far forward, over-balanced and did an involuntary forward-roll, then sprang back-up and comically continued as if nothing had happened.

P1130051

Of course, I’m anthropomorphising, but it’s almost impossible, I suspect, not to project human emotions on to animals when you watch them going about their daily business.

Jackdaws can regularly be found in certain places in the area: Trowbarrow, Arnside Tower, the quarry on Warton Crag. I’ve realised recently that Stankelt Road is another such venue. These chimney pots had four birds perched on them…

P1130061

But when all four had flown away, perhaps unnerved by my attention, I could still hear the sounds of Jackdaws from that direction…

P1130062

There were more birds in the chimney pots! I think that these are juvenile birds sitting in nests. Some hopped out for a look around…

P1130064

…and a bit of an explore…

P1130066

When I lived around the corner on Emesgate Lane, I used to get a lot of squawking and detritus down my own chimney, most memorably an abundance of cherry seeds one summer. I suppose that may well have been Jackdaws too.

P1130067

A Corvid Walk